Iran Attempts To Control The Internet In Their Country Through Censorship

Recently, Iran has had many protests,  so the government has attempted to cut-off protesters by controlling the Internet.  But their attempt to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the outside world has been less than successful.

How is Iran attempting to control the Internet in their country?

Using a similar approach to the “Great Firewall of China” (a term for the attempts by the Chinese government to control what their citizens have access to), Iran has blocked access to many popular social media sites.   By implementing these blocks, Iran hopes to restrict the protesters access to information which allows them to coordinate the demonstration’s locations and times.  Governments are usually reluctant to shut off all domestic access to the internet.  The authorities can order internet-service providers to cut off domestic access to specific services. They can block or limit access to specific addresses or slow download speeds to impractical rates—essentially making the internet impossible to use.  Blocking specific services or providers is another approach. This censorship can cause a lack of communication for local businesses/residents or other informational services that the government wants to remain available.

In trying to control the Internet what social media sites has Iran blocked?

With Facebook and Twitter already restricted in Iran since 2009 their focus has moved to other networks such as Telegram and Lantern.  Telegram is described as “a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a focus on security and speed.”  Much like WhatsApp, Telegram allows users to communicate with each other instantly, which could easily prove to be a powerful communication tool in these circumstances.  The other application Lantern is used in China to try and get around Internet blocks and  is similar in many ways to Telegram.  Adam Fisk, founder of Lantern, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that all data caps for users in Iran would be removed allowing them free access to browse banned sites and use banned services.

How are the people working to defeat Iran’s attempt to control the Internet?

Using “Circumvention tools” Internet users are able to bypass many of the blocks.  These tools have been around for a long time (in Internet years) but have been growing in capability and sophistication in recent years.  Of the numerous methods to get around blocks is through encryption and masking of data – say making a Tweet from Twitter look like an e-mail that is allowed.   Another is to push information through content delivery networks which make the type of traffic much harder to spot.
Overall, Iran’s attempt to control the Internet is proving unsuccessful.  People want free access to information and are willing to figure out how to work around blocks to get to it.  This is proving to cause an ongoing battle.  As the government blocks information the people find a way to access it.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.

Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw

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